Real Estate Apps for Homebuyers

Homebuying is moving to mobile, but in some areas, apps can’t replace the expertise and human element of a licensed broker.

Buying a home? There’s an app for that, as real estate shopping is moving online. While homebuying apps can be great for sorting through amenities and location, there are certain skills only a licensed real estate attorney and broker can help with. Here, we’ll break down what’s useful about real estate apps, and what parts of the homebuying process can’t be replaced with technology.

How Apps Can Help

Much like real estate listing websites, apps can help you research the market, make lists of amenities you want in your dream home, and save the properties you love all in one place for future reference.

The Trulia Real Estate app, for example, helps you sort by location, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, lot size, open house times and home age. It also includes a mortgage calculator. Similarly, the Zillow app sorts by price, size, neighborhood features, school district and more. It also includes Zestimate®, the tools’ algorithm for finding a home’s value, as well as loan quotes and notifications when prices drop or homes are sold.

The following apps provide similar information, but they do things a little differently: Homesnap lets you take a photo of a house and instantly see information about it, including sales history and school district ratings. With Redfin, you can select a search area and see all available listings in that area, along with photos and more detailed information about each property. It’s popular Hot Homes feature shows you homes that have an 80 percent chance of accepting an offer within two weeks.

Why You Still Need a Broker

While these apps are great for an initial search to get an idea of neighborhood and price range, most of them eventually direct you to a licensed broker to walk you through the official process. Why? Because there are certain skills brokers have that an app cannot replace. Brokers can provide detailed information about the history of the home that you’re looking at — such as if there have been any busted pipes recently and when the roof was last replaced. They can also provide valuable insight about the neighborhood and what it feels like to live there — such how quiet it is, if past clients have enjoyed living there and more.

Brokers have more first-hand market data too, so they can give you advice on certain homes and areas that is more nuanced than statistics provided by an app. They are also experts at assessing the value of a property after a walk-through to know if you’re getting the best possible price. The app gives you a price, but you’ll never know if it’s fair. It’s very difficult to look at a home on an app and know whether or not there are hidden issues. A broker will help you ask the right questions and make that call.

Finally, a broker has the human element of connection. They know the best mortgage lenders, contractors and inspectors. They also know how to negotiate on your behalf, which can be reason enough to hire them. Those belonging to the National Association of Realtors are held to a code of ethics, so they’re generally trustworthy.

Buying a home is a huge investment. Brokers and real estate attorneys have the experience, and are there to help you at every step of your buying journey. Use an app to help you get an idea of what you’re looking for, pick a few favorite properties, and educate yourself on neighborhoods and home amenities, then reach out to a broker and an attorney to help with the actual homebuying process. Our real estate attorneys at Anselmo Lindberg & Associates are here to help. Contact us today.

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